before and afterDIY

Before & After: A Damaged Set of Drawers Gets a New Life in Faux Bois

by Maxwell Tielman



For many a design enthusiast and bargain hunter, one of life’s greatest pleasures is finding treasure in unexpected places—on the curb, in the trash heap, in a dumpster. As the age-old proverb  goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and for some, the thrill is in seeing the treasure (and potential) in the broken, seemingly unsalvageable and forsaken. One such treasure-hunter is Finn Stewart, a Melbourne-based designer who is no stranger to the good ol’ dumpster dive. “I am always on the lookout for new furniture and projects to ease the strain on my bank account and relieve some boredom while searching for my next career opportunity,” he says. One such recent project was a dilapidated set of drawers found on the street. With chipping veneer and some highly questionable prior attempts at “sprucing” it up, the piece was in a sad state. With a little bit of work and some woodgrain tools, though, Finn was able to transform this once overlooked cast-off into a bold focal point. Check out all of the photos plus Finn’s design notes and story after the jump! — Max


“While on a walk back from a local café with my housemates I spotted a small set of drawers on the side of the road and decided to see if they had any worth,” Finn writes. “The drawers were pretty shabby to begin with, though a previous owner had tried to do a little something with them already. The construction and materials were average at best, but I thought that they could be useful, and better yet, their renovation could prove to be diverting.”

“After a couple weeks of thinking I decided that because the drawers were free, plain, and fairly low quality I’d try something that I’ve always been quite intrigued by: Wood-graining. If it didn’t work that’d be fine, I was more interested in the process, tools and technique. The faux bois finish, if successful, would just be a happy result.”

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“I sanded the drawers, working down from 60 grit to 120, before priming with a couple coats of oil based primer-sealer, sanding lightly between coats. I mixed a dark grey using white-base acrylic enamel and a small bottle of black liquid pigment I got from the paint store and applied 3 coats, sanding very gently between coats with 240 grit.
Using low tack painters tape, I marked out the uneven numbered ‘planks’, using a small roller to paint them with high gloss white acrylic enamel before quickly switching to the wood-graining tools to add the final finish. After they were dry I repositioned the tape for the even numbered planks and repeated the process.”

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Above image: “The orange chair is another street find. I found a cutting of the succulent plant on the road and took it home hoping it would grow, it did. The small set of drawers is of a set of two that I bought at an antique store sale. The Iittala candlestick is one of a pair I bought at a second hand store. The cushion cover is one that I made as a prop for my postgraduate exhibition. I bought the tin tray in Auckland (NZ) from a charity shop. The two ceramic tumblers are from a local artist, Connie Lichti.”

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